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Nautical Terms

ABEAM - Situated off the side of the ship

AFT - Toward the rear of the ship

AHEAD - Situated off the front of the ship

ALONGSIDE - Said of the ship when it is beside another vessel or pier

AMIDSHIP - In or toward the middle of the ship (also Midship)

ASTERN - Situated behind the ship

BEAM - Widest part of the ship

BELOW - Anything beneath the main deck; to go “below” is to go
to a lower deck

BERTH - A space to anchor or moor (tie-up) the ship; to dock the ship; a built-in bunk for sleeping

BLAST - The sound of the ship’s horn

BOW - Front of the ship

BRIDGE - Area where the ship is steered and controlled

BULKHEAD - Any wall aboard the ship

BUOY - A floating marker, moored to the bottom of the sea or
tied to an anchor

CHART - A nautical map to plot the ship’s course

COMPASS - Instrument used to determine the course of the ship

COURSE - Direction toward which the ship sails

DAVIT - Device used for raising and lowering lifeboats

DECK - The floor of the ship

DISEMBARK - To leave the ship

DOCK - A wharf or pier; to bring the ship next to a pier

DRAFT - Distance between the water surface and the keel

EMBARK - To go onboard the ship

FATHOM - Six feet. A measure of depth

FORE & AFT - Lengthwise (front to back) on the ship

FOREWARD - Front or toward the front of the ship

GALLEY - The ship’s kitchen

GANGWAY - Portable entry/exit ramp

HELM - Wheel controlling the rudder

HOLD - Storage area below guest decks

KEEL - The bottom of the ship

KNOT - One nautical mile per hour; 1 knot=1.15 mile per hour

LEEWARD - Direction toward which the wind is blowing

M.V. - Motor vessel

M.S. - Motor ship

M.S.Y. - Motor sailing yacht

NAUTICAL MILE - 6080 feet, or 800 feet longer than a statute mile

PIER - Area where the ship docks

PITCH - Rise and fall of the ship

PORT - Left side of the ship when facing forward; an opening on the side of the ship; harbor where ships arrive and depart

REGISTRY - Port of registry for the ship

ROLL - Side-to-side motion of the ship

S.S. - Steam ship

STARBOARD - Right side of ship when facing forward

STERN - The rear or aft part of the ship

SWELL - Large wave which rises without breaking

TENDER - Small boat used to transport people from ship to shore

WAKE - waves created by ship’s movement through the water

WINDWARD - Direction from which the wind is blowing

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